All the Information you need to know about Massage Therapy

There is a lot of massage therapy information available on the internet, but most of it is scattered and incomplete. This article will cover all aspects of what massage therapy is, the history of it, and what massage therapists do.

What is Massage Therapy?

“Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues and consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and/or causing movement of or to the body.” – (Massage Therapy , medical-dictionary.com)

While that is the technical definition of massage therapy, the practical definition is any type of massage (using a variety of techniques) aimed to heal the body, whether it is to heal soreness, pain, or even disease.

The main thought behind using massage techniques for healing benefits is that massage can stimulate your body tissues, which then improves blood flow to help the body deliver and remove substances to the region of pain or discomfort.
The most common ailments that are treated using massage therapy are:

• Soreness/stiffness
• Circulation problems
• Tightness (Often the lower back)
• Nerve and tendon pinching
• Rehabilitation issues
• Stress

At this point massage therapy sounds like a miracle cure for just about everything, but it might not be. SOME benefits of massage have been proven, but at this point in time there is a lack of in-depth scientific studies to support some of the claims of massage therapy over the years. To combat this lack of massage therapy information, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is sponsoring many studies that will explore this type of therapy in more depth.

One thing we do know is that many people participate and support massage therapy (over 18 million people in the United States had massage therapy in 2007 – (link), and there are very little possible negative side effects if performed by a professional.

History of Massage Therapy

The practice of massage therapy can be traced back thousands of years across the world, but we will focus in on the role of massage therapy in the most recent centuries.

The first time that using massage for health benefits really became popular in Europe was during the Renaissance, although an exact year is hard to pin down. It is known however that this was the start of massage therapy movement that still widely exists in modern day Europe.

The United States on the other hand have a much more defined and interesting story of the history of massage therapy. It was mainly introduced initially in the 1850s by 2 New York physicians as a treatment that encompassed several Swedish massage techniques. For the next 80 years massage therapy continued to grow and spark interest, but at the same time medical procedures and technologies were also advancing. From 1930 up until about 1970 the United States saw interest in massage therapy plummet in favor of the science-backed medical procedures. It was only in the 70s where massage therapy came back into favor, partially from advertising efforts and interest from professional athletes.

In present day times, as more studies are being conducted that show the benefits of massage, the interest in massage therapy is rapidly growing and is expected to continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

So now that you know all the information about massage therapy and its’ history, it’s time to answer the final question, what do massage therapists do?

As you may have guessed, massage therapists are the people who are trained to apply massage therapy. They are trained to use different types of techniques (rubbing, pressing, kneading, etc.) to perform massages on your muscles in an attempt to heal.

Most massage therapists specialize in one or a few different types of massage, although most types of massage can treat a wide range of illnesses, just in different ways. The reason they specialize is that to master a massage technique it takes copious amounts of training and practice to learn exactly how, where, and with how much pressure to apply the techniques.

The abilities of massage therapists do not stop there however, as a large component of health analysis is now required. High quality therapists not only deliver excellent massages, but they are able to diagnose injuries in patients and work with the patient’s background to identify potential trouble areas.

In modern times massage therapists can work with patients in a wide variety of settings, like offices, private companies, sport facilities, or even in a mobile practice.